Seafarers serving aboard eight Military Sealift Command (MSC) vessels participated in the multinational exercise Rim of the Pacific 2018 (RIMPAC), which took place from June 27 to August 2.
According to the U.S. Navy, as the world’s largest international maritime exercise, RIMPAC provides a unique training opportunity designed to foster and sustain cooperative relationships that are critical to ensuring the safety and security of the seas. RIMPAC 2018 is the 26th exercise in the series, which began in 1971.
Twenty-five nations, 46 surface ships, five submarines, 18 national land forces, more than 200 aircraft, and 25,000 personnel participated in the biennial RIMPAC exercise. During the operation, SIU Government Services Division members sailed aboard the USNS Rappahannock, USNS Charles Drew, USNS Henry J. Kaiser, USNS Carl Brashear, USNS Sioux, USNS Yukon and USNS Mercy. Additionally, cargo for the operation was loaded onto the Brashear by the SIU-crewed USNS Bob Hope in a skin-to-skin operation just prior to the start of the exercise. (The Bob Hope is operated by U.S. Marine Management for MSC.)
This year’s exercise included forces from Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Colombia, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Israel, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Peru, the Republic of Korea, the Republic of the Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Tonga, the United Kingdom, the United States and Vietnam.
According to the Military Sealift Command Pacific Logistics and Operations departments, over the course of the exercise, MSC delivered more than eight million gallons of diesel ship fuel, four million gallons of JP5 aviation fuel and 1,130 pallets of food and supplies during 101 resupply evolutions at sea.
“By providing underway replenishment at sea, we enable the combatant ship to stay on station at sea longer without having to pull into port for resupply,” explained Capt. Stephen Scott, one of two civil service masters who commanded the Brashear during RIMPAC. “During our first evolution we provided replenishment services to seven different ships at once. Five of the ships were U.S. Navy ships and two of the ships were international partners. The partner ships leapfrogged into the formation, came alongside USNS Carl Brashear, thus demonstrating their ability to maintain the position required to perform underway replenishments at sea.”
One of the distinctive aspects of RIMPAC is the number of countries participating, and the interaction between them and the U.S. Navy. MSC ships provided logistics services to foreign navy ships 61 times during the exercise.
The logistics aspect of MSC’s task during RIMPAC isn’t limited to just vessels. On the ground, the MSCPAC Combat Logistic Office (CLO) coordinated the acquisition and movement of all the cargo needs for the entire exercise.
According to the Navy, “Working in concert with directly with Commander Third Fleet and Commander Task Force (CTF) 173, the MSCPAC CLO coordinated not only the delivery of food and stores, but also the pier-side time at the correct pier for the loadouts of cargo to the specific ships scheduled for later RAS. Six MSC ships, as well as MSC reservists from Military Sealift Command Pacific’s Headquarters Unit, MSCPAC’s Hawaii Detachment, and Expeditionary Port Unit 114, are supporting RIMPAC 2018.”
“RIMPAC has continued to grow – more participants, more ships, more evolutions – all requiring logistics support in order to remain at sea and maximize opportunities to train and operate together,” said Capt. Brett Hershman, commander, Military Sealift Command Pacific and CTF 173. “Increased exercise tempo means a greater customer demand signal on MSC. Our CTF 173 operations are more complex this year than ever, with over 100 RAS events providing fuel, food, repair parts and ammunition to everyone out there.”